THE man behind the solar farm at Puriton has described the idea as a 'golden opportunity' for local people.

Peter Thompson, chair of Bristol Energy Cooperative, is encouraging residents in the area to get involved and invest in the renewable energy project.

The solar farm, owned by Bristol Energy Cooperative, has already been built and lies near the M5 at junction 23.

People can invest, with the minimum stake of £500, which can be cashed in after three years or kept in the scheme for longer to earn more money.

An annual return of around five percent can be expected.

Peter said: "We are a community owned cooperative that invests in renewable energy, with the money made and funding stream providing benefits for the local area.

"Although this project is slightly out of our usual patch of Bristol, it was a great opportunity.

"We are inviting the Puriton community to invest in a share as they can expect a 5% return, although we are still finalising.

"The organisations that use the buildings will also benefit from things like cheap electricity.

"We are expanding and currently looking to raise £5million, so the farm will be complete by the middle of the year.

"We need to make sure it's organised and accountable- it's taking a while to put together but we have bought the solar farm and it is up and running."

Peter is urging people who are concerned about climate change to put themselves forward for the project.

"Climate change is a massive issue," he added.

"The solar farm is a positive thing and people can feel like they're getting involved and investing with a good cause.

"They can also feel connected to their community.

"It's helping Somerset do its bit for helping with climate change and it's something we have to do if we want to up our game.

"Investing in this solar farm is a golden opportunity."

The cooperative held two open evenings for those interested in investing, and will be holding more in the coming months.